“Anyway you want it, That’s the way you need it.”
-Journey, “Anyway You Want It.”
The United States lost their game, but benefited from the actions of a superstar. They become the third CONCACAF team to advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup which is impressive for the region. Joining them are a European power that doesn’t seem interested in reaching their full potential, another European (soccer) power that also doesn’t seem to be interested in reaching their full potential, and an African nation just happy they get to stay on the beaches of Brazil for one more week instead of returning to what could easily be considered the Middle East. Every team made it interesting, and used any way possible to get by.
June 26th, 2014
Germany 1 USA 0: The United States has squeaked through to the second round after a loss, and a little help. They played tough though, there’s no doubt about that, and advancing from the “group of death” certainly increases confidence. Holding Germany to one goal, a beautifully placed shot by Muller, is something to be proud of, but the European side once again looked a little too calm on the pitch. In the end, the Americans should be thanking Germany for destroying Portugal in the opener, thanking Ghana for not living up to the hype, and thanking Ronaldo for his late play against the Africans even though his late play days ago put them in this situation to begin with. Klingsman lost to his home country with a smile. How bittersweet. Next up: the team with the sideways German flag.
Portugal 2 Ghana 1: This was a physical match, so physical a Portuguese player almost ripped the shorts off one of Ghana’s. In America, that would be considered a hate crime, so would have the pushing and shoving towards the end of the match. After an early own goal, Ghana answered in the second half, but Ronaldo scored with about 10 minutes left to regain some sort of pride for the disappointing turnout his squad displayed this World Cup. He didn’t even celebrate after the score, probably the first goal of the entire World Cup where someone didn’t look ridiculous, just angry. Cheer up, Ronaldo, at least when you’re in the decline of your career years from now you will be accepted with open arms in the MLS for helping the US advance. It’s like you always wanted; plus you can have your pick of American women that will be lining up at the airport the minute you touch down.
Belgium 1 Korea Republic 0: The Belgians played a man down for the entire 2nd half, and they still found a way to get it done; one of four teams to win all their group games. Another positive for Belgium: a starter scored a goal. Vertonghen cleaned up a generous rebound in the 78th minute and that’s all they needed. When teams win under any circumstances, no matter how they do it, they’re still good teams. The US likes to give up late goals, and Belgium likes to bring in substitutes and score deep into the 2nd half of their games. As for South Korea, it was if nothing was working. They were a little unlucky at times, but they played hard. Maybe instead of returning to their home nation they can ask, “Hey, Brazilians, what’s French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, and Colombia like? Our northern neighbors are pretty annoying. Actually, on second thought, I think we’re better off.”
Algeria 1 Russia 1: The last ticket punched for the second round goes to Algeria. They become the second African nation to make it past the group stage in this World Cup. Russia struck first and early, a wonderful header by Kokorin, but Slimani tied it for the Algerians in the 2nd half, and the draw was all the Desert Foxes needed to move on. Their reward: a date with the Germans next week. The fans were raucous, and what everyone hoped was a flare went off in the crowd. A joyous occasion for the Algerians was a disappointing outcome for the Russians, but you couldn’t tell because they always look disappointed even if they’re happy. Despite past belief that Putin may have taken an interest in soccer, it’s safe to say their national team will continue to be ignored upon return as the jail is still occupied by the failed winter Olympians.
A day off!